Take care as you travel on the London underground. While you are watching the other passengers taking “selfies”, you might find yourself captured by Julie Leonard on her iPhone and transformed into a colourful artwork. Julie is a London-based artist who has been inspired by the technology used by the likes of David Hockney to create a series of i-Phone sketches based on her observations when travelling on the underground.
Earlier this year, Crossrail appointed Julie as its first Artist in Residence for a six month period, during which time she will “create a pictorial diary of Crossrail, capturing many of the personalities and construction scenes across Europe’s largest infrastructure project.” Crossrail, with funding of £14.8 billion, is creating new rail infrastructure to and through London to increase capacity by an additional 10%. Work started in May 2009 and the first services will run in late 2018.
Julie Leonard says:
“My I-Phone sketches are my current obsession and have captured my imagination. Inspired by the technology brought to the fore by David Hockney, I find myself working on a different scale and time frame. Some take a matter of minutes as I travel on the underground; others are more reflective and complex in composition.”
“Traditionally my sketch books were the starting point for my bold oil paintings and mixed media pieces, rich in colour and movement. However with the introduction of my iPhone as my electronic sketchbook, I find myself looking at my subject matter with new eyes. Over the last 12 months my imagery, has become more illustrative and has taken on a narrative quality. The portraits attempt to tell a story about the people, the locations or the situations I observe as I draw.”
“People and places are my inspiration, from wild seascapes, locations seen on my travels, to portraits captured anonymously on the London underground or observations of everyday situations and scenes.”
You can see why Crossrail selected her as their first Artist in Residence. Her work uses modern technology and has spontaneity, movement and colour, giving a human dimension to this immense engineering project.
Crossrail has also announced the first of eight public art commissions to be incorporated in the architecture of new Crossrail Stations. This is being achieved with 50% funding support from the City of London, matched by funding from private developers such as Almacantar at Tottenham Court Road and the Canary Wharf Group. The first project is at Paddington, in partnership with the Lisson Gallery, for which artist Spencer Finch has been selected. His proposal, A Cloud Index, will create a sky of clouds embedded within the glass of the 120m long canopy of the new station. The artwork is in the tradition of English landscape artists such as Constable and Turner, and will include more than 25 different types of clouds which will change with different light and weather conditions. It will be interesting to see the result of this and the other seven commissions, the artists for which have yet to be announced.